A quasi three-dimensional model for flow and transport in unsaturated and saturated zones: 1. Implementation of the quasi two-dimensional case Academic Article uri icon


  • A quasi three-dimensional (QUASI 3-D) model is presented for simulating the subsurface water flow and solute transport in the unsaturated and in the saturated zones of soil. The model is based on the assumptions of vertical flow in the unsaturated zone and essentially horizontal groundwater flow. The 1-D Richards equation for the unsaturated zone is coupled at the phreatic surface with the 2-D flow equation for the saturated zone. The latter was obtained by averaging 3-D flow equation in the saturated zone over the aquifer thickness. Unlike the Boussinesq equation for a leaky-phreatic aquifer, the developed model does not contain a storage term with specific yield and a source term for natural replenishment. Instead it includes a water flux term at the phreatic surface through which the Richards equation is linked with the groundwater flow equation. The vertical water flux in the saturated zone is evaluated on the basis of the fluid mass balance equation while the horizontal fluxes, in that equation, are prescribed by Darcy law. A 3-D transport equation is used to simulate the solute migration. A numerical algorithm to solve the problem for the general quasi 3-D case was developed. The developed methodology was exemplified for the quasi 2-D cross-sectional case (QUASI2D). Simulations for three synthetic problems demonstrate good agreement between the results obtained by QUASI2D and two fully 2-D flow and transport codes (SUTRA and 2DSOIL). Yet, simulations with the QUASI2D code were several times faster than those by the SUTRA and the 2DSOIL codes.

publication date

  • January 1, 1998